Diabetic peripheral neuropathy patients urged to strengthen muscles

Mon, 03 Nov 2014
The increased risk of falling among patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy could be addressed by resistance training.

People with diabetes suffering from nerve damage in their feet and legs may be at risk of falling when climbing the stairs. A new study, however, suggests exercise might reduce this risk.

People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy generally have weaker muscles, which can make climbing stairs problematic, with poor coordination leading to slower movement.

Exercise and diabetic neuropathy

The research team compared 21 patients with diabetic neuropathy, 21 with diabetes only and 21 healthy individuals as they walked up and down a custom-built staircase.

Muscle tissue was analysed to determine when the muscles in patients were switched on and off and when peak activation was reached.

Patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy activated their knee and ankle muscles much more slowly than the healthy group, and were slower at reaching peak knee-muscle activation.

Resistance exercises

Joseph C Handsaker, a clinical biomechanist and PhD candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University and colleague published their findings in Diabetes Care, urging patients with diabetic neuropathy to engage in resistance exercises with weight machines, free weights or calisthenics.

These have been shown to improve muscle power, as well as the strength and speed of muscles in generations such as the elderly, who are at a higher risk of falls.
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